probiotics

THE "super" raw food: lacto-ferments

Ferments are everywhere these days! Go to any farmers market  and you will see booths selling everything from pickles to kimchi. People are starting to brew their own kombucha and pickle their carrots, turnips, and beets. Why are these foods suddenly trendy, when they have been a part of traditional diets around the globe for hundreds and thousands of years? Once again, science is backing up the wisdom of the past. There has been a shift in understanding about our bodies. Where once it was thought that the gut was sterile, science now points to it being a veritable wonderland of microbes and bacteria. Our health depends on maintaining a proper balance of intestinal flora. And lacto-fermented foods are a wonderful source of enzymes and good bacteria! This knowledge has sent people rushing back to eating fermented foods, since fermentation not only preserves the food, but also improves its nutritional content and the bio-availability of its nutrients.

Take cabbage, for example. It is a source of vitamin C. When it is fermented and turned into sauerkraut, the level of vitamin C is tenfold higher. It's been found that just 2 ounces of home-fermented sauerkraut has more probiotics than a bottle of 100-count probiotic capsules!

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This is why Sally Fallon Morell, the President of the Weston A. Price Foundation, calls lacto-ferments the SUPER raw food! Across the board, fermentation enhances the very life of the food. It pre-digests the food, in a manner of speaking, and increases vitamin levels. Anti-nutrients are neutralized or partially neutralized. Minerals are released. Ferments boost the immune system, protect against disease, and aid digestion. In sum, it is a beautiful, marvelous process that works with nature to preserve not only the food, but also our health!

For all of these reasons, including lacto-fermented foods is principle #5 of the Wise Traditions diet. Listen to Sally expound on the benefits of (and the traditions behind) these foods here, in the episode Principle #5 Lacto-fermented Foods.

Highlights include:

–    how lacto-fermented foods are nearly universal in traditional diets –    the two types of fermentation –    how sauerkraut is made –    the role of salt in the fermentation process –    how fermentation may have come about –    the wisdom of traditional cultures and the scientific reasons behind fermentation –    what specific fermented foods are enjoyed in various parts of the world –    just why Sally considers ferments “super” raw foods –    the story of one woman with IBS and how fermented food helped her –    how to tell the difference between fermented foods and those simply steeped in vinegar –    how fermentation can boost levels of vitamin C, minerals, B vitamins –    how lacto-fermented drinks are also a good source of enzymes and bacteria (and serves as an alternative to soft drinks and alcoholic beverages) –    how these foods inoculate the gut, in essence, with good bacteria needed to resist disease –    how these foods are protective against cancer –    how the fermented foods shore up the “biofilm” that lines the intestinal tract –    how to eat the right balance of fermented food –    how these foods replace enzymes lost during cooking and help with the digestion of fat

You will certainly want to begin including some of these foods in your diet, once you understand how beneficial (and delicious) they are! You may even be inspired to try your own hand at preparing them--becoming an alchemist in your own kitchen! Whatever you do, here's to relishing this SUPER raw food!

*** Hilda Labrada Gore is a health coach and the host of the Wise Traditions podcast (found on iTunes, Stitcher, iHeartRadio, Google play, and at westonaprice.org). She is also the DC chapter leader for the Weston A. Price Foundation. Get to know Hilda and her approach to health by visiting her website chispainc.com.

I have a bunch of invisible friends....

No, I have not gone off the deep end. Nor am I talking about an imaginary playmate (even though Jenny is always there for me when I need her)! (Just kidding.) Seriously, I have tiny friends that are not visible to the naked eye, but that nonetheless play a critical role in my health and vitality. They do the same in yours, as well. Here's the skinny on...probiotics!

Friends for life - These invisible, beneficial bacteria are our friends FOR LIFE. Yup, the word "probiotic" actually means "for life."  They do the opposite of what antibiotics do, obvi. Antibiotics have a scorched-earth policy---killing bad bacteria and good bacteria alike. Probiotics fight sickness and infection by strengthening the "good guys" and providing them with reinforcements.

It takes guts - Probiotics promote the healthy gut flora that we need for proper digestion, absorption of nutrients, and to promote health and well-being. If you struggle with constipation, headaches, bloating, gas or irritability, listen to your gut! different-headaches-400x400It's trying to tell you something. These symptoms could be a sign of an imbalance on the inside.

An inside job - Have you ever met someone who was just glowing with health? As much as Madison Avenue tries to persuade us to buy all of the right wrinkle-fighting and hydrating face creams, the real answer to outward beauty and vitality lies on what is happening inside our bodies. Probiotics help maintain the right balance of good and bad bacteria in our digestive tract, so that we can be healthy from the inside out.

So how do we introduce these popular little guys into our diets? You will see MANY foods touting them as ingredients. They are trendy. But a little sprinkling of probiotics is not the same as a product chock-full of them. Try any of the following to get the most bang for your bacteria buck:

1. yogurt - This is a delicious source of probiotics, but, pay attention! Not all yogurt has probiotics. Make sure the yogurt you buy has "live active cultures" on the label. (And, sorry, guys, even though it's fun to have a sweet treat now and then, frozen yogurt often does not meet this standard!)

2. kefir - fermented grains have many more strains of beneficial bacteria than just yogurt. Kefir is like yogurt on steroids. I get mine from the farm. It's a potent immune-system booster and has been shown to promote longevity. milk-kefir-01

3. kombucha - this fermented tea is one of my favorite ways to get healthy bacteria into my gut. It's tangy, fizzy, and yummy.

4. pickles or kimchi or carrots or beets or... - just about any fermented/pickled food is a good source of probiotics. I like to buy some of these products at the farmers market. They have zing and are so fresh. Our family likes to put these on our salads or in our tacos.

ginger-carrots What do you think of probiotics? I consider them my bffs---beneficial friends for life!